School closings CPS vote meeting under way; 4 schools saved from list

May 22, 2013 (CHICAGO)

The emotional issue has been debated for months with parents, teachers students, community groups and labor organizations holding several protests and in the days leading up to Wednesday's final vote.

For demonstrator Katie Sewell, protesting the Chicago Public Schools (CPS) closings is a family affair. Her 5-month-old baby girl, her son and her husband joined the final push to keep at least 50 public schools on the chopping block open.

"It's important for us all to be out here to show other families that we support them, that it's ok for them to come out and stand up for what they believe in and fight for their schools," Sewell said.

Meanwhile, confirmation came Wednesday that four elementary schools will be spared including Marcus Garvey, Mahalia Jackson, Leif Ericson and George Manierre.

According to a Chicago Sun-Times report, another school will not close and sixth school will be allowed to improve.

At CPS headquarters, where the school board meeting was being held, many people pushed and shoved just to get a seat inside.

School board member Jesse Ruiz told ABC7 Chicago that the remaining closures are necessary because the district needs to address a $1 billion dollar deficit and declining enrollment.

"We've got far too many unused seats. It's better to utilize those resources in the students we have than to take those resources away from the students we have today," Ruiz said.

Opponents of the closings say the process has been racist. Others worry it will put children in danger of crossing gang lines to go to new schools. The Chicago Teacher's Union (CTU) has been leading the fight.

"All I keep hearing is we're doing this for the kids, and there's been not one iota of a discussion about the educational plan," said CTU President Karen Lewis.

Wednesday's school board meeting began at approximately 10:30 a.m. Members of the public were being allowed to make comments. Meanwhile, buses of demonstrators headed to Springfield to try to persuade lawmakers to stop the closings.

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